SACRAMENTO — Gov. Pete Wilson signed three bills Wednesday that would generate about $213 million for Los Angeles County's fiscal crisis even though county supervisors have voted to reject almost half of the aid package.
The state package allows a $100-million no-interest loan to the county from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority that was approved last month after a tense showdown between Wilson and Assembly Democrats in the final hours of the legislative session.
County supervisors dismissed the loan last month, saying they do not want to accumulate additional debt. Instead, they demanded that the governor call a special session of the Legislature to resolve the matter.
Wilson and other legislators from both parties have declined a special session unless local officials reach a consensus on a bailout plan that requires state assistance. On Wednesday, the author of the loan bill, state Sen. Richard G. Polanco (D-Los Angeles) criticized the supervisors' rejection. "This is a simple choice," Polanco said. "How the county board can turn their backs on $100 million when they know it would save lives is beyond me. . . . Those are real dollars that would have saved jobs and saved lives."
Wilson, meanwhile, criticized state legislators because they did not adopt a plan that he estimated to be worth an additional $200 million for Los Angeles County. The plan would drop requirements for the county to fund several social programs, including some welfare services and prenatal care for illegal immigrants.
"The Assembly could have and should have taken further steps to give the county even more funds and flexibility to start stabilizing their budget," Wilson said in a statement Wednesday. "When they reconvene, I hope they will complete their unfinished business, pass these measures, and give the county the additional tools it needs to improve its fiscal situation."
Besides the loan, the Polanco bill that Wilson signed provides a $50-million grant to the county from the MTA. Another measure from Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles) is expected to generate about $50 million in savings by relaxing a state requirement for local health care funds.
Wilson also signed a third bill by Sen. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) that represents about $13 million in savings for the county's health care system by changing a state funding formula, Los Angeles officials said.